Monday, May 31, 2010

Some things were better under apartheid

From the Beeb nogal!

When apartheid was dismantled in South Africa, many expected the lives of its black population would improve but promises of land distribution and new homes have not been fulfilled, as Hugh Sykes discovered.

In a community of shacks on a hillside near Johannesburg, a man complained to me: "We didn't like apartheid, but some things were better under apartheid than they are now."

In a community of shacks on a hillside near Durban, a man complained to me:

"Life here under apartheid was bad, but now it is more bad."

I felt slightly unsettled hearing this.

It seemed like questioning a sacred belief - that apartheid was an unmitigated, 100% evil system.

But there is less idolatry here now, as it dawns on most people that the new South Africa is still scarred by extreme poverty and high unemployment.

No paradise

Of course, Nelson Mandela continues to be lauded as the hero of the liberation of black South Africans from the oppressions of apartheid. But he is also being criticised for changing the direction of the South African economy from active state intervention to neo-liberal, free-market economics.

During his presidency, the government switched from RDP - the interventionist Reconstruction and Development Programme - to Gear, which stands for Growth, Employment And Redistribution.

RDP promised paradise - clean water, mains drainage, land redistribution and a million homes - all in five years.

But paradise did not come. The economy of South Africa simply could not bear the cost.

So the finance system switched to Gear.

Part of the thinking was that it would help to develop a substantial black middle class, whose taxes would then trickle down to the poor.

The middle class did develop, but the problem with trickle-down is that it is just that - a trickle.

Houses 'an insult'

Millions of South Africans still live in shacks. Rain and dust get in, there is no security against burglars and shack dwellers have to go out to public stand-pipes to fill up containers with drinking water.

And there is no proper lighting which - quite apart from the obvious inconveniences - makes it very hard for children to get their homework done on dark winter evenings.

A former African National Congress activist, "Bricks" Mokolo, told me it is still very hard to criticise the government here.

He says everybody has been, as he put it, "made to love the ANC, made to love Nelson Mandela" and "made to feel small" if they dare to complain.

Mr Mokolo tells me angrily: "I didn't wait for Nelson Mandela. I too fought for my freedom. I was tortured in an apartheid jail."

He was tortured so brutally that prison officers thought he was dead. After leaving him in a mortuary fridge overnight, they dumped what they thought was his dead body in a field.

Mr Mokolo says that housing, especially, was better under apartheid than it is now.

He calls the new houses that are being built all over the country an insult because they are significantly smaller than the old matchbox homes that the apartheid government built in the townships.

"The ANC government now," he insists, "is simply an extension of the apartheid government. There's still separate development," he goes on, "there are still townships, 20 years after liberation."

His conclusion: "There were places for blacks in those days. Now they are the same places. They've just changed the word. They've changed black, to poor."


World Cup threat?

This is a radical outlook that I have heard much more often than on previous visits.

A wave of strikes over the past few weeks is evidence of mounting frustration, despite the undeniable success of the growing black middle class in their smart homes and fast cars.

"But what about us?" say the rubbish collectors who were on strike for 10 days in April, or the train and dock workers who were out for more than two weeks this month.

Mineworkers were about to go on strike, too, a few days ago and were only stopped by a court order. If they had stopped work, there could have been a threat to power supplies during the World Cup.

All the same, stadiums are taking precautions, installing generators and back-up generators.

This reminds me of the last World Cup, when I was in Baghdad - power cuts, blanked-out TV sets during some of the games.

That surely cannot happen here, can it?

7 Opinion(s):

Viking said...

reality sure hurts ...

Anonymous said...

That bad old apartheid government. Imagine just dumping dead kaffir bodies in the veld.
The problem is, this stupid journalist actually believed the lying dumb nigger.

Anonymous said...

Anon, my sentiments exactly someone probably believes that bullshit, and if it's true he probably deserved it. Does anyone think the whites randomly went around killing black s, if so why did the black population increase from around 5 mil in 1950 to 40 mil in 50 years I say the whites at least cared for them on some level

Anonymous said...

Typical BBC: "Promises of Land Distribution have no been fulfilled"... when each Bantu woman has ten kids, there will never be enough land for them all!
Can't wait 'till they take over Britain! I have a good mind to start helping them land in the UK!

When the Boere Trekked, the Bantu occupied no more the 10% of the land area of what is today "South Africa"... why the hell must they be given Boer Land!?
Oh, of course, THAT is why!

Frustrated but understanding of how it all works, thanks to my:
Common Sense

Laager said...

And don't forget that The 1913 Land Act was a British Law
Until 1931 any law passed by the SA parliament had to be approved by the Westminster Parliament.
Right up until 1961 Britain through the power of the resident Governor General had the right of veto if they felt the Dominions were not towing the party line.

Never once did they stop any piece of legislation being passed by the SA Govt.

The only time the power of veto has been exercised was when the Australian Parliament was dissolved by Governor General action in the early 70s

So SA was the worst of all worlds created by Britain

First an amalgamation of 15 different ethnic groups must somehow become a unified nation like Yugoslavia
Second the land was sub-divided to ensure conflicts till the end of time - just like Israel and Palestine (also a British construct)

Born to be wild said...

The Iraqi rugby player

The Lions Rugby team manager flies to Baghdad to watch a young Iraqi play rugby, is suitably impressed and arranges for him to come over to Gauteng.

Two weeks later the Lions are 18-6 down to the Bulls with only 20 minutes left to play. The manager gives the young Iraqi winger the nod and on he goes.

The lad is a sensation, scores 4 tries in 20 minutes and wins the game for the Lions. The fans are delighted, the players and coaches are delighted and the media love the new star.

When the player comes off the pitch he phones his mum to tell her about his first day in Super 14Rugby.

“Hello mum, guess what?” he says “I played for 20 minutes today, and we were 18-6 down but I scored 4 tries and we won! Everybody loves me, the fans, the media, they all love me!”

“Wonderful,” says his mum, “Let me tell you about my day. Your father got shot in the street and robbed, your sister and I were ambushed, gang raped and beaten, our family van got stolen, your brother has joined a gang of looters and all while you were having such a great time playing rugby.”

The young lad is very upset. “What can I say mum, but I am so sorry.”

“Sorry?!!! Sorry?!!!" shrieks his mum, "It's your fault we moved to Johannesburg in the first place!”

Anonymous said...

Can someone please publush this, I translated from Beeld (Afrikaans to English) as it is on no other English news paper in SA, as always:

Four caught after father murdered, daughters raped

André Damons and Sonja van Buul

Four Mozambicans were arrested after the murder of a man in Meyerton, whose two daughters of 16 and 18 were then repeatedly raped by their father's killers.

The man collapsed in his living room Friday night infront of his wife and children, and died after beign attacked on his small holding just outside Meyerton Vaal Triangle.

Four Mozambicans were arrested yesterday in the early hours of the morning in Soweto for the gruesome attack.

According to Constable. Tikoane Sonopo Police, members of the trio-Vereeniging task team at about 02:00 closed in on a shack in Orlando, Soweto, where three men were arrested. Their accomplice were later arrested somewhere else in


According to Sonopo the four men ambushed the 50-year-old man on Friday at arround 22:00 at his home on the Boltanworld-small holdings.

The victim returned home after a trip from Kuruman in the Northern Cape.

His 16-year-old daughter, opened the door for him and went back to the lounge where her mother, 18-year-old sister and two other women were sitting.

Sonopo did not say who the other two women were.

Shortly after the 16-year-old rejoined the other women, they heard two shots, after which her father entered the room bleeding.

He collapsed and died infromt of the women and children. He was shot under the arm below the right shoulder.
"Shortly after the victim collapsed in the lounge, three attackers rushed into the room. They spoke little, but were very aggressive, "said Sonopo. A fourth man later joined the men, and tied the woman next to the victim.

The two girls were taken to the garage, and they were repeatedly raped.

One of the attackers then took one of the girls back into the house, where she was raped again.

The older women were severely traumatized but unhurt.

Sonopo said the men then took a TV set, radio and the family's BMW and fled.

After the attackers left, the woman were able to free themselves and phoned the police.

The two girls went to a local hospital for treatment.

The BMW was spotted in Diepkloof, Soweto the next day, where they found the TV set, radio and a gun, presumably the murder weapon.

The men will soon be charged with murder, rape and robbery in a court in Vereeniging.

Beeld - 2 May 2010